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Comment Shooting themselves in the foot (Score 1) 182

I've owned/operated a makerbot for almost 2 years now and have gotten to know the company pretty well. I'm confident that they are headed for some serious trouble. AFAIK prior machines were designed without the input of a certified engineer (and I doubt that has changed), which meant that there were many very basic mistakes made: lack of static drain lines, absence of strain relief, operating components at or beyond the limits of spec, using cheap ATX PSUs for 12v instead of 24v bench supplies, etc. They were able to get away with this because their customers were hackers/makers who were happy to troubleshoot and tear things down, often without even contacting the company; I'm STILL putting in tons of work (at least 100 hours in the past month) trying to get my printer to be reliable, and even still mostly enjoying the process. But now they are obviously courting your everyday folk, presenting the machine as plug and play. I can tell you with a glance that the machine is likely nowhere near the complexity required for that much to be true, and can also say from plenty of experience that makerbot as a company has a history of using marketing as an excuse to stretch the truth into, well, lies; for instance, the Automated Build Platform of the ToM was presented as giving one the ability to run prints serially (which they were selling hard, and was the thing that sold me), but the feature was never even implemented on the software side. Not that it would have mattered, the ABP was a total disaster due to, surprise, design oversights and rapidly abandoned, to be replaced with a setup conceived by a user. If it weren't for the freely shared insights of Ed Nisley, an actual engineer (site: softsolder.com) and a handful of other users, makerbot's printers would still be just occasionally somewhat reliable. The reality is that 3D printing isn't ready for everyday folk just yet at ~$2k; the closest small printer from a well established company is the Stratasys Mojo and it costs $10k. So my guess is that makerbot will succeed in getting less technical customers, and then severely suffer the consequences, compounded by having lost to reprap a good share of the customer base they built selling kits. Also, I should point out that as usual makerbot is severely lagging, that there are many far more exciting developments (well it's not hard to be more than essentially none) going on in the open source printing world. My new printer is a reprap (mendelmax, really dig the rostock though), and I'm sure it will put the replicator2 to shame.

Comment Re:The problem with these models... (Score 1) 816

Sorry, I forgot to mention trains. And yes, some things will still work best with fossil fuels (i.e. farm equipment) until a sufficient alternative is found. The point is that using energy more efficiently will have a much greater effect than using marginally more efficient vehicles. There's just no sense in using tremendous amounts of energy to move several tons of metal and 4 empty seats everywhere you go, especially considering that more than half of all trips are within 3 miles.

Comment Re:The problem with these models... (Score 1) 816

I have discovered the solution! This miraculous machine is the most energy efficient form of transportation ever invented, it's so simple a child can repair it, and everybody loves to drive it. Not only that, driving it actually makes you healthier, encourages friendly bonding between strangers (i.e. society building) and naturally reinforces the local economy. It's called a bicycle.

Comment Do it, Ride a Bicycle! (Score 1) 542

About a year ago I decided to ride a bicycle every possible trip. This decision has had a profoundly positive impact on every aspect of my life. This week I rode a bike 35 miles up a mountain, along with all my stuff for a week of family vacation; the next day was spent mountain biking. After all this I experienced no soreness. When I started driving my bike, I thought that I could never sell my car, at most I would put it in long term storage. Now my car is a really expensive and unnecessary burden, driven barely once every few months.

If we seek to optimize efficiency, safety, health, and cost, the car of the future is actually a bicycle.

Comment call it our point (Score 5, Interesting) 1135

I'm a USAmerican and while I'll admit to sucking at math, I think it's a stretch to say I suck "so badly." I'm not exactly sure what The Problem with America Today is, but if I had to guess I'd say a lot of it has to do with extremely large organizations motivated solely by profit (AKA news media) manipulating the international discourse in ways that are profitable, which has nothing to do with a sane representation of reality. It's probably not even that satisfyingly conspiratory, unfortunately, but I do know that I've never seen anyone ram together a few legitimate data points like I have in this blog post (which I'm reproducing in entirety here to save everyone the effort of having to click through to a foreign environment):

In the style of Harper's Index, if with so much less elegance...

Number of deaths in the USA due to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists in 9/2001: 2,996
Estimated number of those that were US citizens: 2,669
Number of deaths in the USA due to traffic accidents in the same month: 3,303
Number of deaths in the USA due to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists between 9/12/2001 and 12/31/2008: 0
Number of deaths in the USA due to traffic accidents in approximately the same period: 303,841
Total approved, as of 12/2009, for the three military operations initiated to combat terrorism in response to 9/11 (excluding funds for CIA, FBI, TSA, Homeland Security, etc.): $1,086,000,000,000
Estimated budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the same period: $6,520,000,000
The NHTSAs budget, expressed as a percent of the amount allocated for these military operations: 00.
Estimate, in 2008, for the final total cost of the Iraq war alone: $3,000,000,000,000
Amount allocated to the military per terrorism related US citizen death in the USA since 9/11/2001: $406,893,967.78
Amount allocated to the NHTSA per traffic related death: $21,458.59
Amount allocated to the military per terrorism related US citizen death in the USA since 9/12/2001: Undefined
Percentage of causes of death in the USA that kill more people than terrorism: 100
Percentage of causes of death in the USA that receive more public money for prevention than terrorism: 0
Percent change in gross federal debt between 2001 and 2010: 232.97
Percentage of gross federal debt in 2001 that would have been eliminated by 1.086 trillion dollars: 18.8
Amount each US household would receive given 1.086 trillion dollars evenly distributed: $9443.48
Rank of defense, excluding expenditure on active military operations, among all categories of federal spending: 1
Percentage of federal spending in 2009 that went to defense: 23
Percentage of federal income in the same year that came from individual income tax: 43
Percentage that came from social security/social insurance tax: 42
Percentage that came from corporate income tax: 7

Sources: http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHTSA Global Terrorism Database, with specific query used The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by the Congressional Research Service (pdf) The three trillion dollar war http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt Projections of the Number of Households and Families in the United States: 1995 to 2010, from the US department of Commerce (pdf) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

Comment Re:Language (Score 1) 1153

Also, saying that math can express most anything is a pretty strong assertion.

Godel's completeness theorem proves that mathematics is infinite, that is, no collection of mathematical rules and structures can ever be called finished or complete. There's no reason to assume that includes expressing emotion, epistemology, etc., especially because it is known there are different sizes of infinity, but it is clear that math can express an awful lot. Of course there's plenty of reason to conclude that math can't say much about something like ontology, because questions like "what is really real?" (as one of my many philosophy books puts it) are so terribly ill defined that they evade even rudimentary logic.

Comment Re:What World Does He Live On? (Score 1) 1153

I'm supposed to be doing my analysis midterm right now. The part I'm at requires that I prove (-a)*(-b)=ab, and I have only the slightest idea how that's going to happen. I fear that my course isn't being taught well, because so far it seems all I've learned is that I'm terribly afraid I don't actually understand any of this thing called math. This is rather disturbing, as it was only a few months ago that I decided I'd pursue my PhD in pure mathematics. Formal proof is indeed very important, but the class in which I first saw the potential was Philosophy 101, introduction to formal logic. It was only through continual reinforcement in classes such as discrete math that I realized the true power of logic. That said, for me one of the most enlightening moments was the revelation that all life is composed of (potentially) trillions of cells.

Comment Re:My car gets 1000 MPG (Score 1) 576

By most standards it's not a car, I was just tired of being ignored the moment the word bicycle was used. Obviously this didn't work as I was instead immediately modded irrelevant then flamebait, both of which not only confounded me but also deepened my fear that humanity is Screwed (despite considering myself an optimist). The car I was referring to is indeed an electric assist bicycle which receives somewhere short of 50% of its power from my legs. Though the electric conversion has been blowing my mind and that of the few intelligent people around me, I'm already ready to cede that a century of brainwash has made irrefutable fact of the notion that any distance further than across the street, or any cargo greater than a candy bar, or any weather at all requires a car. As such, I've begun the design of a four wheel, two seat electric assist velomobile just shy of a Miata in stature, with the intent of tricking people into thinking it's a car.

Comment Re:My car gets 1000 MPG (Score 1) 576

If I get hit by another 60 lb car, neither of us are likely to be seriously injured, especially if neither of us are going over 40 kph. It's very basic physics, if you're in something that's over 1300 kg (like the average sedan) traveling over 40 kph, any accident has the potential to be deadly. This is why there are on average over 3000 deaths per month due to car accidents in the US. Just because there's a tradition of high speed heavy vehicles doesn't mean it makes sense or is the optimum form of transportation.

Comment Re:a trade war? good (Score 1) 738

As American consumers, we pay less for cheap plastic crap now.. at the expense of our jobs and quality.

Ultimately, American consumers caused this problem, because they sought the best value for money. Nobody forced Americans to by products made in China - they chose to, by taking the money out of their pocket and putting it on the counter.

Don't forget that all very powerful corporations have well funded marketing departments, whose entire purpose is the manipulation of people into parting with their money; the perfect advertisement would hook 100% of its audience, which is no different than mind control. If you ask me, the advertisements have been plenty more than effective enough for a long time. Did you know that people didn't really wear deodorant until shortly after shortly after WWII? One of the earliest incarnations was a concept of Bristol-Myers. Then all of a sudden here we are and deodorant is apparently as essential as water. The entire culture was manipulated into thinking that people "stink," which is true but misleading. Consider that deodorant works by blocking the apocrine glands in the armpit, apocrine glands being the special ones that are only found in the armpits, at the areola, and around the genitals. Is it really a leap to assume that if we have any pheremones, that's where they come from? And that by blocking our "stink," we are blocking one of the few ways in which we can sense and communicate with our fellow humans, one that might actually be rather developed after so much evolution? There are some businesses that are making a lot of money based on the misconception that deodorant is necessary; we have been convinced that we need absolutely need so many things when we really don't.

It's pretty clear that the quest of continually increasing profit is naturally anti-people (and unsustainable) because it demands the subjugation of people (employees) in order to undercut the market; it's also in a corporation's best interest to maximally inflate the price of a good over its material cost, which implies maximally taking advantage of their customers (who are people). It's really too bad that instead of using our gift of consciousness to enhance life on Earth and beyond (as the logical conclusion of evolution might suggest we do), we have chosen the strange purpose of trying to get a big number written on a bank slip. What's probably worse is that this culture of greed transcended single individuals and has become the sole drive of large and powerful organizations.

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